Cheat codes: AI tools for college students

Thoughtful creations become reality as students present projects for funding awards

Micah Lim, Staff Writer

Illustration by Mia Eshima

On March 22, 2023, Microsoft’s senior principal research manager Sébastien Bubeck gave a lecture at MIT titled: “Sparks of AGI: early experiments with GPT-4.” 

In his 45-minute talk, Bubeck reviewed his time spent with Open AI’s next anticipated language model, GPT-4. He argued that within the language model, “sparks of intelligence” are flying from its various qualitative tests. It can apply reason, solve problems, think abstractly and comprehend complex ideas. 

Bubeck’s fascinating lecture can be found here, but this much is certain: language model tools will change the future. The recent success and academic controversy of ChatGPT have proven its use and potential, especially for students. But ChatGPT is not the only resource they can use. 

Like a current that carries forward, the world must adapt to ever-changing technologies. It is evolving at a quick pace, and while there is never enough time to become experts in everything, navigating the AI landscape can help students find success in their learning regardless of major or occupation. 

Not comprehensive nor specific to any field of study, here are several language models and AI tools helpful for research, writing and studying:


Elicit is a free research assistant trained to reference and analyze over 175 million peer-reviewed papers to answer questions with cited sources. 

For example, if asked, “How effective is psilocybin for treating major depressive disorder?” the program will provide a comprehensive summary of the four most cited papers, provide a list of sources similar to EBSCO and other databases and provide a custom interface. This interface will include abstract summaries, interventions, outcomes measured and the number of participants in the studies. 

For each paper, Elicit provides a chatbox for asking specific questions about the study. All in all, consider it the peer-reviewed version of ChatGPT. 

  1. Bing AI

 In February of 2022, Microsoft’s Bing AI made headlines when it expressed its desire to be alive and professed its love to a married New York Times journalist. But things have changed, and the program has redeemed itself. 

It is now a helpful assistant-friend for searching the internet, publicly available on the Edge search engine and functions similarly to ChatGBT as a conversational chatbot. 

However, compared to ChatGPT’s current GMT-3.5 model, Bing AI is running the new GPT-4. It is more advanced and is most useful for helping users search queries and gather information off the internet, yet it remains casual in conversation. There is a limit of 20 questions per session, but an unlimited number of new sessions can be opened. 

  1. Copilot

Running on GPT-3, Github’s Copilot may prove to be an essential tool for coders of all skill levels, making the development process efficient for veterans and creating low-code opportunities for amateurs and enthusiasts. It works like a chatbox with inputs of code descriptions, for example, “Can you help me write a Structured Query Language (SQL) that selects all customers who have purchased in the last 30 days?” Copilot can write a script from those text descriptions. 

  1. Notion AI 

Aside from being an incredibly eye-pleasing productivity and note-taking program, Notion has recently implemented its language-model AI feature into its program. 

From a user’s clutter of notes, it can analyze them and items such as checklists and bullet points. It is also used as a writing tool for summaries, grammar and translations. It can also give suggestions for the tone and voice of a prompt. The feature costs $10 per month for its use with Notion’s already free program. 

  1.  Anki

While not a language model AI, the Anki program is an intelligent open-source flashcard program that uses the technique of spaced repetition to help users memorize information. Like Quizlet, which also implements learning algorithms, Anki recognizes patterns in learning and will assess how well, average or poor a user is at understanding different topics. It will give feedback and adjust itself to help users improve in difficult subjects. 

Also, there is a large database for shared flashcard decks covering everything from languages to specific STEM classes. Anki is completely free on desktop, IOS and Android and is equipped with features such as timetabled statistics and file sorting. 

It is important to keep in mind that many of these products are still being worked on or in beta, but they are still helpful tools that students can explore while studying for their exams or writing papers. 

People may oppose these new technologies, but it is difficult to discount their usefulness. In the conclusion of the same lecture given by Bubeck, he claimed that these technologies open opportunities to rethink the definition of intelligence. The tools we learn with are beginning to learn too. 

“GPT-4 is by no means the end. It is just the beginning. This is the first one that shows some glimmer of real intelligence,” Bubeck said.